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CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH, SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT & MORE

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Legislators were not happy this year when they learned that the Department of Human Services had not increased Medicaid supported employment provider rates by 20% on January 1 - they passed a bill last year that increased the rates, found the $750,000 to do that, and the Governor signed it into law.  Both House and Senate Human Resources Committees passed bills unanimously this week to demand rates be increased as planned.  Senate File 2101 is now ready for full Senate debate; House File 2121 was sent to the House Appropriations Committee for a final look (and assigned to Representatives Heaton, Heddens, and Rizer).  Both bills are safe from the first deadline.

There is a lot of confusion about the services managed care organizations (MCOs) will offer to children who had previously been on the state's Wellmark-managed hawk-i children's health insurance program. Legislators have been contacted by parents who say their children will not be able to qualify for Medicaid-funded speech therapy, because MCO manuals say their children must have had a stroke to qualify (typically a requirement that only applies ot adults).  That has prompted Sen. Amanda Ragan to file a bill (SF 2049) that would require coverage for speech therapy services for kids.  That bill is assigned to a subcommittee of Senators Jochum, Wilhelm, and Costello. 

In response to concerns, Medicaid Director Mikki Stier plans to provide legislators with a comparison chart of the plans for children's services (called a "cross walk") in hopes that clears up some of the confusion. We will post that document once it is available.  In the meantime, a parent recently spent time pulling out all the language from the MCO member manuals related to these services, so legislators could see why there is confusion. That information is here

Finally, the Children's Mental Health and Well-Being Work Group has come up with a set of recommendations to create a coordinated, statewide integrated mental health system for children in this state.   In December they issued their final report, which you can read hereSenate Study Bill 3109 implements the recommendations of that workgroup:

  • Appropriates $300,000 for planning grants to develop chlldren's mental health crisis services.

  • Requires DHS to study and collect data on emerging, collaborative efforts to address the well-being of children.  DHS is to select 3-5 "learning labs" to see how these approaches can benefit children with complex needs and their families throughout the state.

  • Directs DHS to work with the MH/DS Commission, Department of Public Health, and the Mental Health Planning Council to develop additional recommendations for the creation of a children's mental health crisis service system, and development of a children's mental health education and awareness campaign,

  • Appointment of a permanent Children's Mental Health and Well-Being Advisory Committee in the Department of Human Services to continue to provide guidance in this area.

 This bill is currently assigned to a three-person subcommittee (Senators Mathis, Ragan, Segebart).